Andalusia, Spain

Photos and journal of our travel in Andalusia and Gibraltar. We visited beatifull town as Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada in this Spanish region.

Andalusia map, Spain

Friday 26 December 2008
We leave Vicenza by car at 9.45 am together with our friends Iano and Chiara. We take A4 motorway towards Milan, traffic is flowing and in about an hour and three quarters we reach Orio al Serio airport in Bergamo. We booked the Ryanair flight  Bergamo-Alicante well in advance. We didn’t choose to fly directly to Seville or Granada because the ticket cost four times as much! The flight runs smoothly even if we arrive half an hour late. In Alicante we pick up  the Opel Astra booked from Italy at  Hertz and head straight to our destination: Granada. The journey to the city is entirely by motorway. It takes us about three and a half hours to walk the first chiometers on Spanish soil (350 km).
We spend the first two nights at the Hotel Alhamar, nice, clean with large rooms and in a good central location. We have dinner at the Antica Bodega Castaneda based on excellent Spanish meats and cheeses.

Hotel Alhamar (70 € in two rooms only)
C / Alhamar 46-48
18004 Granada
Tel. +34 958 290 3 × 03

Saturday 27 December 2008
We wake up early to visit the Alhambra , we must enter the Palacio Nazarìes at 9.00 . By booking tickets in advance, we are assigned a time to respect. The Alhambra is splendid: the palaces and gardens with fountains  and orange trees full of fruit create a unique atmosphere. Probably the gardens they do not appear in their greatest expression, but perhaps, compared to spring or summer, they are certainly more peaceful and immersed in peace. We have lunch at Nemrut, a place that serves decent kebabs and Arabic dishes.
In the afternoon we visit the cathedral, the capilla real and the old part of the city (Albaicin) . Although Granada is at the foot of the Serra Nevada and therefore it is cold in the evening, the center is lively and crowded.

Hotel Alhamar

Sunday 28 December 2008 We
leave Granada and head north. First stop is Jaen, famous for its extensive olive groves. You cover kilometers and kilometers of road on fully cultivated hills. Honestly, the city does not offer much, given the cathedral we continue our journey. Ubeda and Baeza are two towns where you can stop for a quick visit. The weather is bad: it is cloudy and the sky is gray, the cities lose much of their beauty.
We arrive in Cordoba in the evening at the Hostal Santa Ana, a small cozy and well-kept guesthouse in a very central position, located just behind the Mezquita. .
We have dinner in the restaurant El Churrasco, tourist, not cheap but dinner is not bad.

Hostal Santa Ana (68 € for two with breakfast)
C / Cardenal Gonzalés, 25
14003 Cordoba
Tel. +34 957 485 837

Monday 29 December 2008
Mezquita! Cordoba’s tourism revolves around this fascinating cathedral built in the middle of a mosque. We enter without having to pay the ticket because admission is free before ten o’clock (something discovered by chance but which makes us very happy!) The Mezquita is really beautiful, the rows of columns create perspective games, the lighting is suffused , the contrast between the Christian part and the original mosque is something unique ! Leaving we wander through the rest of the historic center: a maze of white alleys with courtyards full of plants. Here, too, the new part of the city is very lively, full of shops, people and crowded bars.
In the evening we attend a flamenco show  at a modest price of 20 €, including drink… There are a couple of guitarists, 3 singers and various dancers… the ballad parts are very beautiful and engaging, a little less than the solo parts…, however overall very pleasant.
Hostal Santa Ana

Tuesday 30 December 2008
From Cordoba we head towards Seville. We stop in Carmona , a small town close to the Andalusian capital. The weather is very nice: the blue sky and the warm sun invite us to have lunch (based on tapas) outdoors in the town square. We arrive in Seville in the afternoon. We booked at the Puerta de Sevilla hotel, a modest hotel in a good central location that allows you to visit the city without having to use the car. We visit the splendid Cathedral and the annexed Torre della Giralda , from the top of which we admire a 360 ° view of the city, splendid!

Hotel Puerta de Sevilla (€ 87 in two room only)
C / Puerta de la Carne, 2
41004 Sevilla
Tel. +34 954 987 270

Wednesday 31 December 2008
We get up early to not find long queues at the REALES ALCAZARES, palaces-fortresses residence of many kings and caliphs. The complex of palaces and gardens is fairytale! It is a continuous alternation of gardens full of citrus trees (orange , lemons …) that create lively splashes of color and fountains and splendid palaces richly decorated in Mudejar style, the typical Andalusian style a mix between Christian and Islamic art, and for this symbol of the succession and fusion of these two civilizations in Spain of the South . We continue the city tour by visiting the Plaza de Toros , one of the oldest arenas in Spain. The entrance ticket allows a guided tour both inside the building and the small museum dedicated to the world of bullfights.
In the afternoon we visit Piazza di Spagna  The azulejos benches that each represent a Spanish province are very beautiful.
We then return to our hotel to rest a little, as we plan to spend the evening around the city celebrating New Year’s Eve. The hotel management makes us find in the room a tray with a small bottle of sparkling wine and two glasses for the toast, really very nice!
All places serving tapas are closed today. There are only restaurants that, as happens in Italy, double their prices for the last of the year. We have dinner in the restaurant affiliated with the hotel in a discreet way at a price that is at least not astronomical. At the stroke of midnight it is traditional to eat 12 white grapes. So we find ourselves together with many Spaniards in the town hall square to observe this custom. Before midnight the streets of the city are almost deserted, all the Spaniards celebrate the arrival of the new year in dinners that last all night until the next morning, and take to the streets only for the toast!

Puerta de Sevilla hotels

Thursday 1 January 2009
Leaving Seville, we leave early in the morning towards the Costa de la Lux. Along the way we stop to visit Arcos de la Frontera which, except for its panoramic position, does not offer much. We continue to CADIZ, where the car is parked, take a walk along the seafront from which we can admire the panorama of the bay of the same name. After having lunch based on fish we resume the journey towards Tarifa (tip Marroqui)   the southernmost city in Europe, the point where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and along the way we stop to stretch our legs in one of the coastal beaches near Zahara De Los Atunes, where we listen to the sound of the ocean and smell its classic salty smell, too bad the weather is not nice!
Finally arrived at La Linea de la Conception here we spend the night for this and the following evening. After depositing our luggage, we decide to have dinner in an English pub in Gigraltar. We cross the border on foot, and continue through the airport landing strip! Yes, anyone… pedestrians, cars, buses…. to reach Gibraltar city must cross the track! The imposing shape of the fortress that juts out into the strait stands out in front of us, which immediately makes us understand why this place has always been considered a strategic point and impossible to conquer.
We immediately notice the difference with Spain, even if only in terms of timetables and taxation: in fact, here we have dinner until 10pm and no later. So we enter a pub and order dinner. But a mistake due to a waiter’s mistake does not allow Eric to savor “fisch and chips”, a dish long dreamed of, but he has to settle for a sandwich at Mac Donald’s!

Citymar Mediterráneo
Urbanización Pueblo Mediterráneo (65 € for two with breakfast)
Paseo Marítimo, s / n
La Línea de la Concepción
Tel. +34 956 17 56 66

Friday 2 January 2009
We dedicate the morning to visit Gibraltar.
So, leaving the car in a parking lot in Gibiliterra, we immediately go along Main Street. The atmosphere is English: there are the typical red letterboxes, the signs are in English, the currency is the pound sterling (even if they accept euros: obviously with a change to their advantage!) … Having traveled the way we want to climb to the fortress but the cableway does not work due to the strong wind. So we opt for the tour to the top with a minibus at a cost of € 25 per person. It’s worth it! The guide is nice and explains the history and the various stages very well. Yes, because the tour unfolds in four points. The first stop is at a plaque that reminds us that we are on one of the two famous columns of Hercules, at the end of the ancient world, and from which you can see Africa. After the necessary photos, we get back on the van and head to the second stage: Apes’ Den. And here are the monkeys  (the only colony of primates in the wild in Europe) that are waiting for us, and not at all intimidated by our presence, jump on the minibus or stop indifferently on the side of the roads. We feed them and take some photos. They are really nice! The third stop is at St Michael’s Cave, a huge natural cave that offers a grandiose amphitheater used for concerts and theater performances. Finally we walk through the open part of the Great Siege Tunnels, the tunnels dug in the Rocca by the Brittannici to store ammunition. Even this attraction is really well done, there is even the reproduction of old soldiers at human height and with a lot of voice!
After the tour, we take the car back and head to Ronda. The road is infamous full of curves and there is fog! But it is certainly worth a trip to this country, if only for the inaccessible position in which it stands . Ronda is part of the Pueblos Blancos, typical Andalusian villages perched on hills, typical for the color of the houses and streets built in white lime. The city is divided into two parts, the new and the old, connected together by the Ponte Nuevo which spans an impressive gorge on the Guadalevin River. We spend the night in Las Palomas, in Torremolinos and given the weather conditions and Enrica’s malaise we have dinner in the hotel where we are served an abundant buffet.

Las Palomas (€ 52 for two with buffet breakfast and dinner)
Calle Carmen Montes, 1
Torremolinos Malaga 29620
Tel. +34 (95) 238 50 00

Saturday 3 January 2009
From Torremolinos, the crowded summer destination of the Costa del Sol, we move to Murcia. City not far from Alicante, where the next day we have the return flight.
We visit the center, it’s Saturday afternoon, there are many people strolling through the Christmas markets or meeting in the various places that serve tapas. The visit is not particularly interesting. We spend the night in a hotel of the Campanile chain: peripheral but very clean and well kept.

Campanile Murcia (45 € in two rooms only)
Avda.Juan Carlos 1
Tel. +34 968 89 97 81

Sunday 4th January 2009
We leave the hotel calmly and in an hour we arrive at the Alicante airport. We leave the car at Hertz and return with the Ryainair flight to Bergamo, in perfect time. In Italy we find snow that fell during the week.
The only hitch is that Enrica’s luggage did not leave Spain, it will arrive home two days later.

Useful information:
The motorways are almost all free. There are few paid sections in Andalusia.
Tapas: tapas cannot be described as an appetizer, as a snack … but as a lifestyle, a moment of aggregation. The places that serve Tapas are always crowded, lively, cheerful. People cram into the little internal space or pour into the street. We eat and drink standing up, seats are few and everyone is always busy. The waiters serve small portions of dishes based on meat, fish, vegetables. The prices are low and the food is very good.
Total kilometers traveled:  1980 Km  in 9 days

Maps, guides & useful bibliography:
Michelin n. 990 – SPAIN – PORTUGAL – 1: 1.000.000
Michelin n. 578 Regionale – ANDALUSIA – 1: 400.000
Italian Touring Club – Road Atlas of Europe – 1: 900.000
Maps and brochures of the cities visited distributed free of charge by the tourist offices

Lonely Planet – EDT – central and southern SPAIN 6th Italian edition
Lonely Plane – EDT – ANDALUSIA 5th Italian edition

One Reply to “Andalusia, Spain”

Comments are closed.